Rendell Committed to Keeping Pens in Pittsburgh

HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell reaffirmed his commitment to building a new arena in Pittsburgh that will replace the aging Mellon Bank arena and help ensure that the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team remains in the city.

In March, the governor announced his plan to fund a new arena in downtown Pittsburgh that would use no taxpayer dollars and could be implemented immediately. 

Rendell issued the following statement after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board issued a gaming license to PITG Gaming LLC, Pittsburgh, which had agreed to assist in financing the new arena if awarded a gaming license.

“I remain solidly committed to keeping the Penguins at home, in Pittsburgh. I have been in touch with County Executive Onorato and Mayor Ravenstahl and I will shortly reach out the Penguins’ owners about finalizing our financing package for the new arena. I also will meet with the principal of PITG Gaming, Don Barden, one of the most successful minority gaming owners in the U.S., to formalize his commitment to the arena.

“Since announcing the ‘Pittsburgh Arena Now’ plan in March, I have held true to my commitment to begin planning, and we have successfully completed preliminary plans to build a new arena to house the Pittsburgh Penguins. We have acquired the necessary land and have moved forward with design and financing plans as we awaited today’s Gaming Control Board decision.

“I intend to work closely with Mayor Ravenstahl, County Executive Onorato, the Penguins owners and NHL officials on our plan for a new arena and I am confident that, together, we can keep our Pittsburgh Penguins at home.”

Under the Pittsburgh Arena Now plan announced in March, a $290-million arena could be built and financed using proceeds from a 30-year, tax-exempt bond funded by four sources:

-Penguins – Operating Expenses and Contribution to Capital
In 2003, the Penguins said they would be willing to make both an up-front contribution to a new arena and pay an annual lease payment. They offered $8.5 million up front and $2.9-million per year.

-Voluntary Contribution from the Successful Slots Applicant
$7.5-million-per-year as a voluntary contribution from the eventual winning of the slots license should Isle of Capri not succeed.

-Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund
This fund will generate between $150-million- and $170-million-per-year or more to support development projects around the state. $7-million-per-year would be used for a new arena in Pittsburgh.

-Naming Rights or Other Arena-Based Revenue
Selling the naming and advertising rights at the arena will produce more than the $1.1-million-per-year.

In June 2003, the Penguins produced a report entitled “Balancing All Interests”. According to the report, which was published in response to a financing plan that had been developed by the SEA in 2002, the Penguins would commit an up front payment of $8.5 million toward the construction of a new arena.

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